Fire ants tend to have very painful bites. To deal with an infestation, one needs to understand some facts about them. Fire ants nest on the ground. Their nests may appear as mounds that are 18 centimeters high and 61 centimeters in diameter.
Fire ants are dangerous and aggressive. They attack anyone that intrudes in their surroundings. They are capable of giving multiple stings that can sometimes be fatal if not addressed in good time.
Table of Contents
- 1 Dangers of fire ants
- 2 What eats fire ants
- 3 Fire ants in the house
- 4 Fire ants in water: can they drown?
- 5 Fire ants allergy
- 6 The little fire ant
- 7 Characteristic of the fire ant
- 8 Eating habits
- 9 Fire ants bites
- 10 Swelling after a fire ant bite
- 11 Fire ant bites on dogs
- 12 Red imported fire ants
- 13 What are red imported fire ants?
- 14 Control
What do they eat?
The ants’ diet is omnivorous in nature and they will feed on both meat and plants. They are known to eat meat, sweet material as well as greasy foods. The workers’ diet includes earthworms, insects, blood, honeydew, and sweets. In plants, they mostly do seeds.
Fire ants feed on animals even when they are not the ones that have killed them. Adult fire ants cannot feed on solid foods. The workers bring the food into the nest which is then turned into liquid before they feed.
The worker ants are also are responsible for feeding the larvae in the other stages since these too cannot feed on solid food.
The reproduction period for the maturation of the fire ants is 30 days. This is the time it takes for an egg to become an adult. The life span of the queens is quite long-spanning between two to six years while the workers only live up to 180 days.
Dangers of fire ants
The most common signs for their activities are the swarmer ants and the worker ants. The presence of earthen mounds which tend to be most visible after rainfall is another sign. Fire ant stings are also an indication of their presence.
Fire ants prefer warm sunny conditions and that is why they are found in open dry fields. They will avoid areas that are shaded and cool.
Whenever they are attacking, the ants grip the prey using their strong mandibles and then use their sting to inject alkaloid venom into the victim’s body. The stings are mostly very painful and could at times be fatal to humans.
Some people will experience severe symptoms such as excessive itching, sweating, and nausea. It is also possible to experience white pustules as well as some red bumps on the skin.
These could later lead to scarring. These are accompanied with a feeling of intense burning. In most cases, the ants will attack in large numbers leading to the victim experiencing multiple stings. Where this happens, emergency services should be sought immediately.
To avoid the bites and stings, it is important for one to be keen while outside. Watch where you step as well as where you sit. Avoid walking in the fields without shoes on.
Be on the lookout for mounds and once you notice them, keep your eyes on the ground. This will help you recognize any ant activities. To get rid of an infestation, contact your local pest control professionals.
The fire ant queen
The fire ant colonies comprise of worker ants who are responsible for gathering food, defending the colony as well as tending to the young ones. There also are some winged females and males whose sole purpose is to mate.
Once the winged female mates, it gets on the ground, sheds its wings, and acquires the queen’s status. They then spend the rest of their lives laying eggs.
The queen ant may decide to go back to the colony she was in or start a new colony. Alternative colonies are started when a single queen ant leaves a colony with multiple queens with a few worker ants to go and start a new colony.
In most cases, they will have a nest resulting in a mound located close to the initial one. This serves to enlarge the initial colony.
As they migrate, fire ants can be seen moving to their new home. The fire ant queen is always well protected by the worker ants. They will tend to bite and sting any perceived enemies.
What eats fire ants
The phorid fly has in the recent past been explored as a viable method of fire ant control. This predator ant is also known as the ant decapitator fly.
It tends to lay eggs inside the head of live fire ants. When this happens, the eggs later hatch and incapacitate their host. The larvae then feed on the body of the ants.
Other than this fly, the only other known fire ant predator are human beings. They kill them using various fire ant control mechanism.
The phorid fly has in some places been introduced to fire ant colonies as a means of control. The method of elimination is known as cross-reactivity. It also helps to counter the venom produced by fire ants.
Fire ants in the house
The invasion of homes by fire ants has been on the increase with time. Fire has become common in houses as well as business property. The fire ant normally enters the property in search of water and food.
Apart from the nuisance they cause by simply being around, these ants also pose a danger to the inhabitants as they could sting them.
There are some conditions that could attract these ants into the house. One of these is poor sanitation. To avoid this, the house should be cleaned regularly and all attractants are gotten rid of.
Fire ants could also get into a property through poor window seals, gaps on walls as well as plumbing and electrical wiring. These are mostly a result of poor construction. Where the entry points are found, they should be sealed immediately.
Moisture problems could also contribute to an invasion by the ants. Any leakages in the home should be repaired as soon as they happen. Ensure that there is proper draining and that no water is left standing.
Other sources could be the movement of toys and plants in and out of the house. It is possible for these items to carry in the ants from outdoors. Pet food is also another great attractant that could draw the ants into a home. It is therefore important to clear up any uneaten food.
Fire ants in water: can they drown?
A common spectacular to watch, fire ants can be seen forming water rafts. These help them to form floating clusters of ants within themselves.
This way they are in a position to survive floods and can manage to travel over very long distances. Fire ants can not down to death because they know how to stay afloat.
This happens when ants grab onto each other like they would do on any other surface. Since their legs have adhesive pads, they use these and their jaws to stick on each other. This leads to the formation of a raft in the shape of a pancake.
The ants’ cuticle is made up of a hard outer covering which is water repelling. It is also rough which allows the ants to trap air when submerged.
This leads to formation of a layer known as a plastron layer. The raft is thus made up of a huge group of the ants that are well linked together and whose adherence to each other is enhanced by their water repellent ability. This enables them to float for long without water penetrating through the raft.
There are however things that can be a nightmare to the floating ants. This includes soap and any other element that can break the surface tension of water.
If this happens, they will sink. Immediately there is some soap in the water, they start to sink. Their plastron layer is lost and they easily drown.
Fire ants for sale
In the past, people have started growing fire ants as a hobby. Fire ants for sale are therefore available from people who grow them for commercial purposes.
These consist of casts made from aluminum to fill their tunnels and chambers. This leads to amazing sculptures that show the details of the ants’ nest. Various stores are open with these for one to pick.
Fire ants allergy
Fire ants are stinging in nature. At times when they sting, one may experience an allergic reaction to the fire ant sting.
At times, it could be a life-threatening condition known as anaphylaxis. The symptom of this condition is experienced in more than one part of the body.
They include itching, swelling of the throat or tongue, dizziness, difficulty in breathing, diarrhea, stomach cramps, or nausea.
Given how severe the reaction may be, it is important that an accurate diagnosis for the allergy is done. Immediate medical treatment is necessary so that a plan to manage the allergy is developed.
The little fire ant
The little fire ant was once a problem in Florida. This was before the advent of strong pesticides which were later used to kill them.
These ants tend to increase to great levels in the absence of the pesticides. This ant is mostly located in the northern and central America. It can also be found in West Africa and the subtropical Atlantic islands.
The ants thrive in temperatures that are warm and those that have uninterrupted sunlight. They tend to avoid shady and dark places. Infestations, therefore, occur in open parks and fields. An immediately significant amount of rain has made the ground wet, their mounds can be seen.
Characteristic of the fire ant
The name fire ants are commonly used to describe a number of species belonging to the genus Solenopsis. These are a minority within the genus. Fire ants are stinging ants and their names will in most situations reflect this. There is no one name that applies to all the species in all areas.
These ants undergo a complete metamorphosis developing from an egg to adulthood within 30 days. The worker ants have a short lifespan and can only live up to 180 days. The queens live longer and could exist for up to six years.
Whenever they are attacking, fire ants make use of their mandibles for gripping their prey after which they sting and inject venom into the victim.
This attack is normally fatal in most human beings. It could result in severe symptoms such as nausea, sweating or excessive itching, one should seek medical attention immediately.
The stinging normally results in red bumps and could also cause white pustules which could cause scarring in the long run.
The victim tends to experience an intense burning sensation after suffering the sting. Due to the large size of the colonies, it is possible for an individual to suffer multiple stings.
The control of fire ants is best done by professionals. This is the best way to ensure that infestations are gotten rid of without one experiencing the sting.
They will start off the process by inspecting the affected property after which they will determine which the best method of control is.
Individuals are advised to avoid infested areas. Be keen and take the necessary caution to avoid getting stung. Where one notices a fire ant mound, ensure that you watch their activity around and avoid venturing into the area bare foot.
How to Identify fire ants
Correct identification of fire ants is quite important especially in controlling and managing them. This can easily be done if one is aware of their characteristics. Fire ants are mostly found in urban areas. There are various ways through which one can identify fire ants.
The ants are most common in urban areas. They however could invade new areas. Physically, the dorsal view of fire ants will reveal ants with two petiole nodes. These are found between the abdomen and thorax. They have an elbowed antennae which has 10 segments.
In terms of their habitat, the fire ants can be recognized using their characteristic nests which appear as a mound of fluffy soil.
These are most evident a few days before it starts raining. There is no opening at the center of the mound. Instead there are underground tunnels through which the ants leave. The tunnels can be visible on the ground in the mounds are in hard compact soil. They come in different sizes and shapes.
In terms of behavior, fire ants can be recognized because of their aggression especially when they perceive danger around the nest.
This could lead to the ants inflicting painful stings on individuals. The ants tend to be small in size with a variety of sizes within a colony. Their head and body have a coppery color while the abdomen is darker.
Where one tries out these characteristics and are still not certain of the identity of the ants, it is best to ask for professional help.
What is their colour?
The fire ants tend to have a color distinct to the species. The head has a reddish coloration as well as their elbowed antennas.
The red imported fire ants on the other hand-have a red head and thorax. It is possible to have variations within the colony of the ants.
Fire ants are mostly identified by their red coloration on the body. They also have a stinger. Their bites and stings are where their names are derived from.
Fire ants are an aggressive lot and tend to feed on insects as well as dead animals. When they attack a home, they will feed on sweet and greasy materials, meats and other types of foods. This makes them omnivorous.
A fire ants infestation is identified by having some activity within an area. The worker ants can be seen foraging for food. It is also possible to see their mounds elevated from the ground.
This is mostly obvious after it has rained. Another unfortunate indicator of an infestation is having complaints of people being bitten by the ants or other animals being stung when they intrude.
Although the red imported fire ant is not a native species in North America, it has currently become a nuisance in some of the states including California, Oklahoma, Virginia and Florida.
Fire ants will thrive in warm sunny conditions. They prefer staying in dry fields and will therefore avoid shady areas in the woods. Their mounds contain thousands of ants and at least one queen.
Given that these ants are well known for their attacks, what do they feed on? These ants are omnivorous and will eat almost everything. When they come across other insects, they will use their mandibles and stinging power to tear them down to manageable pieces.
They will then take these back to the colony for feeding. They get attracted to worms and insects due to the oil in them. In the winter though the attraction by oil reduces.
The ants are as well attracted to sweet things. These include sugar, honeydew and nectar. Insects and other prey are used as a source of protein.
The feeding process of the ants is a bit complicated. The worker ants feed larvae using liquid food until they reach their third instar level. The adult fire ants can chew but they do not consume solid food.
This is because they can only swallow liquids. As such, any solid food that is brought into the nest is given to the oldest larvae for digestion. This is the fourth instar larvae which has the ability to consume solid food. Once done, they feed the rest of the colony. This process is known as trophallaxis.
Other than the above, fire ants will eat any greasy, meaty or sweet material. This includes ticks, spiders, arthropod eggs, earthworms, and honey dew. In plants they will consume vegetation as well as seeds.
Some vertebrate animals that could fall prey of fire ants include rodents, calves, and birds. The ants will also consume dead animals irrespective of whether they killed it.
Where do they live?
In case you have noticed some fire ants in your property, you may be wondering; where do fire ants live? Fire ants live in mounds.
They built them in open fields where there is no moisture. The areas also have to be well lit. Some colonies though may develop under buildings. The mounds are usually 61cantimeters in diameter and could be around 18cantimeters high.
The brood and the queen are located beneath the mound in a maze of channels and chambers. These help in regulating extreme temperatures. This allows for the ants’ survival in severe weather as well as when there are seasonal changes.
A single nest can host up to 500, 000 individual ants. The colony is made up of sterile female workers and a few queens. The sterile females have tasks assigned to them after maturing from the larval stage.
The task will depend on their age, size and other colony requirements. They could include housekeeping, foraging, building and defense.
Where the mounds develop without being interrupted, they may grow too big upon which some of the queens will split up to start up new colonies just nearby.
Are they poisonous?
The fire ants are an aggressive type of ants. They tend to sting. In order to attack their opponent, the first use their mandible to bite then sting as they inject venom into the victim.
Each sting causes pustules and welts. There also could be allergic reactions which could at times lead to death. A fire ant is capable of stinging multiple times. This makes them quite dangerous especially to kids and pets which may suffer a lot of pain from their attack.
The ants tend to inject into their opponents some venom. This makes their stinging poisonous. This could lead to serious reactions in some individuals. In severe cases, individuals may end up dying from the reaction of this venom.
Fire ant bites are painful. An attack from one of them will beckon the rest to join in leading to multiple bites.
How do you deal with fire ant bites on dogs as well as on other animals? What symptoms are exhibited by a person who has been bitten? We explore these to help in dealing with these ants.
Fire ants bites
Fire ants have strong mandibles that enable them to give multiple bites to the victims. The biting is always followed by a string. Fire ants bites help them to grasp the victim so that it can ease the stinging. When this happens, some venom is injected into the victim.
This will lead to redness on the skin, itching and swelling. With time, some red welt will appear causing some discomfort. This is then followed by blistering of the area. The blistering increases the itch and swelling causing a lot of pain on the area.
Since some people may experience allergic reactions, it is always important to learn how to deal with the bites, identify whether you are allergic to its venom as well as treat it to ease the pain and the swelling. We discuss these below.
When fire ants bite, one can easily tell because they attack in large numbers. They can be seen moving up using vertical elements meaning they will easily travel up a person’s legs or hands when they are on the ground.
This attack is mostly seen when their nests have been disturbed which mostly happens accidentally. This could be when people sit or step on their mounds.
These actions are perceived as a threat to the existence of the colony and the ants gang up to protect themselves from intruders.
Immediately an attack has occurred, the first step is to move away from the infested area. This should be done as quickly as possible to avoid further biting and more ants from clinging on your body.
Once away from the fire ant mound, remove the ants from the body parts they have attacked. Due to their clingy nature, this may be a little bit hard especially if they are many. This is caused by the fact that they clamp on the body using their mandibles.
To do this quickly, try brushing away the ants. In case they have not clamped up on the skin, they will get off. Where they have already gripped the skin, this may not be possible. One will have to use their hands to pick them up one by one.
When doing this, ensure your hands are not bare as they could bite the hands. Wear gloves or use some piece of cloth when doing this. It will help prevent your hands from being bitten.
Keep off from slapping the ants while still stuck on your body as this makes them more aggressive. Where some of the ants are stuck on your clothes, get rid of them immediately.
The physical removal of the ants is the only way of averting further bites. After this has been accomplished, next is to consider your symptoms.
Symptoms of a fire ant bite
When one is attacked by fire ants, they will know. The ants tend to attack in large numbers and will race up a victims’ vertical surfaces.
This happens when one disturbs their mound. They tend to aggressively attack the intruder in a bid to protect their territory. A single fire ant is capable of giving its victim multiple bites.
To identify the symptoms of a fire ant bite, check for many red swollen spots which develop into blisters on top. These will itch and hurt as well and could last up to a week.
To deal with these:
Apply some ice on the bitten area to avoid swelling and to reduce pain. Wrap it up on a piece of cloth to avoid frost bites. Take ten minutes breaks within applications.
Rub the bite area with a baking soda paste. Add some clean water to baking soda and stir until a smooth paste forms.
Rub this on the area of the bite. This will help to reduce redness and lessen itching. One can also use a mixture of vinegar and baking soda or plain vinegar. They all work.
You could also use ammonia to rinse the area. This helps in minimizing the effects of the bites as well as the stings.
While doing self-treatment of the symptoms, it is important to be cautious. Some people may have allergic reactions to the bites.
These range from mild to severe. In most cases, swelling and pain are normal. Only in rare occasions will some people experience allergic reactions. The symptoms for severe reactions include:
- Itching, swelling, and hives in areas other than where the biting occurred.
- Vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea
- Difficulty in breathing accompanied by tightness in the chest
- Swellings in the throat, lips, and tongue s well as difficulty in swallowing
- Anaphylactic shock is an indication of the most severe cases. It could lead to cardiac arrest if not treated soon enough. Other symptoms include dizziness and shock.
Where these are experienced, one should seek immediate medical attention. When there are extreme precautions, one should see the doctor. To prevent injuries resulting from fire ant bites, treat the infested areas.
This is best done by professionals. Due to the fact that these ants have a few natural predators, it is a bit hard to control them. Experienced people though should have the necessary resources to do it.
The reactions are mostly treated using antihistamines, steroids or epinephrine. Those who have epi-pens can inject themselves early enough before proceeding to the hospital.
Fire Ant Venom
Fire ants have a stinger to which is attached a poison gland. It is in the gland that the fire ant venom is produced. The poison is majorly made up of two components. These are proteins and alkaloids. These tend to be toxic to the body cells and contain the same chemical as the one contained in black pepper.
Swelling after a fire ant bite
In most cases, when they bite, one will experience fire ant bites swelling. These become worse where a person is allergic to the venom that is injected into their body when the sting.
The swelling could be accompanied by other symptoms. These include itching, redness and pain on the site of the bite. Within a few days the swelling may be filled up with pus which could last up to eight days.
To treat the swelling, ensure that the affected area is elevated. In case the bite was on the arms, keep them lifted. The legs can be elevated sing pillows. This will help to prevent further swelling.
It is also important to clean up the area using soapy water. Wash it gentle to get rid of any dust or ant debris that may be stuck on the skin. This will help to prevent the swelling from getting infected.
Placing a cold compress on it could also help. It will numb the place and help in reducing swelling on the affected part since flow of blood to it is reduced by the constricting of the blood vessels due to the numbing effect.
To alleviate the itching and pain on the swelling, one could apply some hydrocortisone cream or take an antihistamine. These will help to manage the swelling.
Popping of fire ant bites is not advisable. This is because it could lead to the worsening of the swelling and in worse cases cause the swelling to get infected.
When left as it is, the swelling tends to subside with time. One should also avoid scratching it to prevent it from breaking which could also lead to infections.
When the swelling starts leaking pus or becomes discolored, this could be as a result of an infection. Medical attention should be sought immediately.
Fire Ant Bites Allergic Reaction
There are some persons who may be allergic to fire ant bites. This may range from mild to severe reactions. Mild reactions may only cause the area to itch and form a small lump.
In severe reactions, the victim may experience nausea, hives, abdominal clamping, dizziness, diarrhea, chest tightness, and swellings in the throat and tongue. A rapid heart rate may also be experienced.
These are life threatening conditions and one will need to see a doctor immediately. For people who use epinephrine shots, they can use them as they seek medical attention. Once a person learns they are allergic to the bites, they should be cautious enough and avoid going close to the ants’ nests.
Fire ant bites on dogs
Just like human beings, dogs could also suffer fire ant bites. These occur when the dogs are allowed to roam freely or when they are being walked.
When there are fire ant bites on dogs, the first thing one should do is move them to a different area as keeping them around the place where the attack occurred will lead to more bites.
Once the dog is out of the vicinity of the fire ant nest, one should start removing the ants from the dog. Do not use water to do this as it tends to make the ants clamp together. Try to brush them off the dog’s body using fast strokes.
A top down motion should do the trick. If this does not seem to work, try using a towel. One could also put on some hand gloves and remove the ants one by one. Avoid using your bare hands as the ants have the ability to inflict multiple stings.
The most vulnerable body parts are the belly, paws, legs and the face. It is important to begin the removal by focusing on these areas.
Once the dog is free of the ants, treat the dog using after bite liquid. Dabbing some ammonia on the fire ant bites on dogs could also help to relieve the itch.
In the absence of the above, some home remedies could do. Make a baking soda paste using water or vinegar. Apply this on the affected area. Some cold compresses will also go a long way in reducing swelling and itching. Keep using anti-itch spray on the dog until it gets better.
Here is a video on how to identify fire ants:
Red imported fire ants
There are two species of fire ants in the US; the native or tropical red ant and Red Imported Fire Ant (RIFA) which is the most notorious.
RIFA is a native species of South America but is currently found in different parts of the globe. It is always important to distinguish these two species when trying to control an infestation.
The pedicel of the ants consist of two segments. They vary in size depending on the designation of the ants. The worker ants tend to be smaller than the queen ants. their mandibles have four teeth. They also have an antennae which is segmented 10 times.
It ends in a group that has two segments. At the end of the baster is a sting which is used to inject venom during attacks. Their body color normally lies between red and brown.
Their mounds are build on soil and that contains worker ants, males and the queen ants. the workers are responsible for normal running of the nest and their duties include nursing, protecting the colony and foraging.
The queens mate with the swarmers and spend the rest of their life laying eggs. Once the males have mated, they tend to die soon after. when it is disturbed the ants will emerge ready to aggressively attack the intruder. This is done through bites and stings.
The attacks may result in white pustules that are quite painful and itchy when a human being is stung. In other cases, allergic reactions may be established.
One major distinguishing factor between the tropical and imported red fire ants is the ratio between the small and large worker ants. While the other species have many small ants compared to the larger ones, te situation is reversed with them. You are likely to experience half as many large ants as are the small ones.
Imported red fire ants live in colonies of up to 500 000 individual ants. The queen is capable of laying between 1500 and 5000 eggs each day. Once she has mated, she does not leave the colony and can live in the nest for many years to come.
The RIFA is such a threat when it strikes. They are extremely destructive and will dominate areas surrounding their nests due to their existence in large numbers. The fact that they have an almost in existent lot of natural enemies makes them result in population rise in the areas they infest.
The ants are capable of altering the ecological composition of areas they invade. They tend to eliminate the native fire ant species and also compete with other animals for water and food.
They feed on the young ones as well as eggs for reptiles and birds thus altering in a great way the population of their prey. Ground nesting species are easily eliminated by these ants.
The same applies to small mammals new ones. Due to lack of documentation, it is possible that the actual effects of the ants on animal populations could be underestimated.
What are red imported fire ants?
The red imported fire ant is an ant from South America that is reddish brown. It is one of the many species of fire ants.
The ants are small and aggressive. During attacks, they inject into the victim some alkaloid venom as they sting. A high number of people suffering from their attack require emergency medical attention.
The ants live in mounds which when disturbed will quickly emerge ready to attack. They use their mandibles to grab the skin of the victim a they sting them.
One ant has the ability to inflict multiple stings. There is a high coordination of the attack and the ants tend to attack in unison. This leads to multiple attacks from different ants which could be serious. This is done by worker ants responsible for protecting the colony.
The red imported fire ant is native to the South America. The ants were brought into the United States in the early 20th century. Invasions normally occur through bee colonies, nursery stocks, trucks and trailers.
Their spreading towards the north They currently occupy large areas here and can be found in various states including Texas, North Carolina, Arkansas, Mississippi, Tennessee, California and Oklahoma. The ants can travel long over flooded areas. As a result areas with seasonal flooding are likely to experience natural dispersal.
Red imported fire ant facts
When it comes to the control of ants, it is important to have as much information as possible. This helps in studying their characteristics and behavior which are important in controlling the ants. We explore some facts about the red imported fire ants below.
- The ants entered the United States in Alabama but currently cover a lot of states.
- The migration of fire ants to the north is likely to be limited due to the cold temperatures that tend to freeze the soil deep enough to affect the fire ant colonies.
- Other than the red imported fire ants, there also are black imported fire ants which are qite similar in behavior and characteristics.
- The fire ants live together in the soil in colonies that are very large and which could contain more than 200 000 ants.
- Majority of the colony members are infertile females who serve as worker ants.
- The ants vary in size
- All ant have the ability to sting.
- In most cases, there is only one queen per colony whose work is to lay eggs throughout their life after they have mated.
- The fire ants go through a complete metamorphosis with their life cycle starting with the laying of eggs which hatch to larvae. These develop into pupae and later mature to adults.
- The ants are omnivorous and feed on a wide variety of items
- The ant mounds do not have an exit on top and therefore the worker ants exit using underground tunnels.
- The adult ants and first to third instar larvae cannot swallow solid food. They feed after it has been liquefied by fourth instar larvae. The adults also feed the young ones from this.
- The spread of invasions is through swarming of the ants. this occurs when a reproductive group of ants fly away exiting the mound to mate. Once they are done they lose their wings, the males die soon after while the females remain to live as queens for the rest of their live. They establish new colonies elsewhere where they lay eggs for the rest of their lives.
Red imported fire ants live in their nests. These can be seen in the form of mounds which are normally visible before the ants.
These tend to be dome shaped large mounds. When they show up in someones field, they tend to look like some heap of soil piled up. The mounds could have galleries beneath the ground extending far. They are connected beneath using tunnels that make up a weather proof nest.
The tunnels act as air conditioners when there is too much heat. When it is cold, heat sinks in keeping them warm. The mounds are elevated well enough to provide refuge when it is flooding. In some areas though, these mounds could be flat and appear non-existent. This is not to mean that they are not around.
Generally, fire ants tend to construct mounds in those areas that are open and therefore exposed to the sun. very rarely will they be found in woods or locations with tree canopies.
Since they also love urban areas, here they are found nesting in yards, fields cemeteries, parks, and concrete slabs. Thy have also been observed in vehicles, sidewalks and roadways.
Electrical currents attract them and this is the reason why they are also seen around heat pipes, traffic lights and other such devices. In some cases, they could cause electrical fires as they chew the wiring.
The United State’s Department of Agriculture lists the red imported fire ant as an invasive species [Source: invasivespeciesinfo.gov]. The ant is native to South America and was introduced to the United States in the 1930s.
Its invasion could lead to painful attacks in the form of multiple bites and stings to pets, human beings and livestock.
The fact that these ants have limited natural enemies keeps them thriving. They can easily develop into large colonies and even start budding. To manage them, it is best to call in professionals for extermination as their attacks could cause severe reactions in some people.
Due to their ability to give victims multiple stings, the red fire ants are a species that most people would want to keep off their property.
In some states, this ant is quarantined. Contacting the state agricultural officers will ensure that help is offered to control them. Where this is not possible, there are professional baits that can be stationed in areas of invasion for their elimination. It is always important to let this be done by professionals to avoid attacks.
The red imported fire ant has a life cycle similar to most ants. the queen lays eggs which form the first stage. After this they hatch into larvae which later develops into pupae.
The last stage is an adult ant. Other than the individual ants’ life cycle, there also is the life of the colony. This grows as the queen red imported fire ant lays eggs. The growth is quite fast at times.
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